Like many of you, I spent weeks indoors, barely able to breathe from the ash that blanketed our city from the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. Like some of you, I grieved the loss of trees, the destruction of hiking trails. The trees were gone who had been my friends and teachers. The trails had been the gateway into the sacred mansion of the cathedral forests.
I already missed the stillness of meditation in silent pines and firs, maples, broadleaf trees and shrubs. I recalled the gentle ferns, the thunderous and majestic waterfalls along clear creeks, the colorful carpets of delicate wildflowers, the hallowed earth that had been home to so many of my deep healings and spiritual experiences.
At first, I was in too much pain to read the news, to look at the pictures. Then I remembered one teacher, the spirit of a small tree that I could easily wrap my arms all around. I called it the Oracle Tree. Oracle Tree had been a source of great wisdom. It was found about twenty rugged feet off a crook in the Wakeena Falls trail, just up from the first little bridge as you started climbing. I had taken all my new students to Oracle Tree, because he made it easy to tune in, and hear advice. He had always told me that although he was inhabiting a seemingly small tree, he had been the spirit of an ancient tree that had once burned.
I suddenly realized that nature involves fire and the nature spirits were still here.
I was finally able to read the news, to look at the pictures. I could see the fiery crimson of trees that burned like a raw open wound where there had once been refreshing green. And I could see that the nature spirits were still there, alive and well.
In fact, even from a distance they were still teaching people how to connect with nature. They were reminding us how precious it was to have them as a resource And that we all need to raise our community’s children to respect nature, to honor the fire spirit in proper boundaries. And we need to call each other on caring for our wilderness and wild places, on caring for our elders. On loving each other. On loving all life.
A new life, “Grow, grow”
The beloved is calling us to awaken to a new life, as angels will be encouraging the forested life to regrow. According to the Talmud, every blade of grass has its angel bending over it, whispering, “Grow, grow.”
Since then, I have learned from a wise Native American teacher, about the element of fire. It is the same as the fire that burns in our hearts and hands, to be of service to others, to uplift people, to love, or to fulfill our particular destiny. In nature, fire is a cleanser. It allows us to recognize the impermanence of things. It makes space for the new to grow.
How have you grown, what awakenings have you had, what spiritual evolution have you undergone, as the result of fire or other forms of destruction?